Escondido police chief warns landlords that rent to gang members

Posted at 6:57 PM, Mar 09, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-10 10:59:05-05

ESCONDIDO, Calif. - Escondido's police chief said he plans to go after landlords who rent to gang members in light of a gang-related shooting that claimed the life of an innocent woman.

The shooting happened Tuesday on East Grand Avenue, and flowers and candles now mark the spot where Cathy Kennedy lost control of her car after getting hit in the head by a stray bullet.

"It's just so sad. I feel just terrible," said Diana Roe, who lives down the street from where the shooting happened.

10News learned Kennedy was driving home from a bible study when gunfire was exchanged from across the street. The shooting happened right in front of the Pepperwood Meadows condo complex.

"This was just too close to home for me. It made me really nervous and sad," said Roe.

Escondido Police Chief Craig Carter said his department just recently finished an 18-month neighborhood transformation project. During that time, his department and the city worked to reduce crime, clean up debris, add lights and trim bushes.

RELATED: Driver killed in crossfire of gang shootout on way home from Bible study

"That small area on the complex, it appears they've gone backward and now we are back to trying to recapture it for the community," said Carter.

Carter said he plans to go after landlords who rent to gang members. The Pepperwood Meadows complex has roughly 200 individually owned condos.

"We have ways that we can go after the landlord to make them understand how important it is that they screen their tenants and keep an eye on them," said Carter. "We will go after that complex and we will go after apartments or condos of owners that rent to bad people."

Tagging at Pepperwood Meadows leads police to believe that rival gangs of the shooter or shooters live at the complex.

"That's at 1811 East Grand [Avenue]. I don't often call out an individual location, but I [have to] tell you my frustration level is very high," Carter said during a news conference Wednesday.

According to the chief, there are several ways the city can try to go after the landlords. One way involves working with the responsible owners to file a civil suit against the landlords causing problems. Another option involves getting a nuisance abatement through the city attorney's office.

"When one group or one individual apartment or even a condo is causing a higher degree of calls of service and, therefore, taxing the law enforcement more, if it's brought to their attention and they don't do anything about it, we can look at doing a nuisance abatement as well," said the chief.

Carter said crime has been down across the city, adding, "I'd say it was on a downward trend, but you could have a downward trend for six months and then all of a sudden you have a couple offenses that kind of beef it up."

Carter said there are no suspects in death of Kennedy, but they're following up on dozens of tips. The chief is urging anyone with information to call Crime Stoppers.

Meanwhile, the funeral for Kennedy is set for Friday, March 17, at the Church of St. Timothy in Escondido.